Grants: Is it Time For A Competitiveness Check Up?

November 15, 2018       The NonProfit Times      

If your organization’s grant proposals seldom result in funding, it’s time for a check-up. Not every proposal will win an award because here are too many variables. But if you’re doing the work correctly, it’s reasonable to expect a good deal of success.

“Be sure to think of the assessment process as a “check-up” rather than a “dressing down” of your grants specialist,” said Barbara Floersch, chief of training and curriculum for The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif. “There’s much more to evaluating a grants professional than tallying up wins and losses.”

Grant proposals reflect not only the knowledge, skills, and work ethic of the grants specialist, but also the culture and support systems of the organization. “When doing the check-up, search for realities throughout the organization that either fuel or stifle competitiveness,” said Floersch.

An obvious starting point is a thorough evaluation of the people who are responsible for identifying and responding to grant opportunities. Do they have the expertise they need to turn out highly-competitive requests? Do they manage their time well? Do they have the tools they need, and adequate dedicated time? Do they have professional development needs that aren’t being met?

Don’t stop with the grants specialist. “Grantmakers fund organizations, not proposals,” said Floersch. “A strong proposal from a troubled organization is unlikely to win a grant.”

The proposal shines a light on the ability of the applicant organization to partner successfully with the funder to accomplish meaningful work. Funders want to see good audits, solid subject-matter expertise, deep community partnerships and collaboration, and data that proves the applicant’s impact. A grant proposal can’t spackle over significant cracks in the organization’s work or systems. They’ll show up. To win grants, be sure your house is in order. © Copyright 2018 The Grantsmanship Center.